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Cradle Mountain is a mountain in the Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park, Tasmania, Australia. Rising to 1,545 metres (5,069 ft) above sea level, it is one of the principal tourist sites in Tasmania, owing to its natural beauty.
The area around the mountain has a large number of day walks, as well as being one terminus of the Overland Track. The Overland Track winds through a variety of landscapes to its opposite end - 80.8 kilometres (50.2 mi) to the south - at Lake St Clair, Australia's deepest lake.
The mountain is climbed by tourists virtually year round. It is a strenuous return hike from the Dove Lake car park with a recommended allotted time of 6.5 hours. The climb up the rocky part of the mountain involves scrambling over large boulders for several hundred metres. The entire climb is exposed to any bad weather that may arrive quickly and at any time. From the summit, there is a spectacular 360 degree view, encompassing Dove Lake, Barn Bluff and Mount Ossa.
Dove Lake is a corrie lake and it is a very popular visitor attraction and is encircled by well maintained walking paths which also lead up onto Cradle Mountain. Like several other lakes in the region, Lake Dove was formed by glaciation. The habitat is unique and includes the Tasmanian deciduous beech (Nothofagus gunnii), tussock grasses, snow gums and pencil pines. Among animals wandering the shores of the lake are numerous wombats, echidnas, pademelons and tiger snakes.
The Overland Track is one of Australia's most famous bush walks in Tasmania. More than 8000 walkers each year complete the track. Officially, the track runs for 65 km from Cradle Mountain to Lake St Clair. However, many choose to add the hike along Lake St Clair as a natural extension, bringing the length to 82 km. The track winds through terrain ranging from sheer mountains, temperate rainforest, wild rivers and alpine plains all in the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.
Aside from the main track there are also several alternative side tracks, including to the summits of Cradle Mountain and Mount Ossa, the tallest mountain in Tasmania. Also within reach are a group of tarns called The Labyrinth and Lake St Clair (the deepest lake in Australia). World-renowned for its pristine environment and beauty, the walk has been compared to New Zealand's Milford Track.
Walkers complete the trail in 5-6 days. This is normally done from north to south, which is the mandatory direction between 1 October and 31 May. The record time is 7 hours and 25 minutes, achieved by Andy Kromar during the Cradle Mountain Run.
Cradle Mountain-Lake St Clair National Park is located in the Central Highlands area of Tasmania (Australia), 165 km northwest of Hobart. The park contains many walking trails, and is where hikes along the well-known Overland Track usually begins. Major features are Cradle Mountain and Barn Bluff in the northern end, Mount Pelion East, Mount Pelion West, Mount Oakleigh and Mount Ossa in the middle and Lake St Clair in the southern end of the park. The park is part of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area.